The Agora
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June 23

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 1Sa 2:26

"And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men" (1Sa 2:26).

Surely this is worth notice, especially by those who worry that the Truth is in danger of being lost today. Much in such fears may be well-founded as to particulars, but not as to the conclusion sometimes reached: that somehow the Almighty has lost control in His ecclesia, and that the only course of action is to forsake the assembly and begin again somewhere else. With such examples as this before us here, surely that is not the answer!

Paul was imprisoned and near to the executioner's block. Men like Hymeneus and Philetus were undermining the faith of some. All around was hopeless, half-hearted "discipleship". Was it time to give up hope, to flee like a hireling from the "wolves" of rebellion and pride and error? No, the answer of the aged apostle was clear: "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his' " (2Ti 2:19).

So it was in the days of Eli. The Lord knew who was His. He had called him into being in the barren womb of a righteous woman. He had seen him brought to His house. There his soul was nourished with visions of the eternal purpose. There he grew up strong and faithful, amidst the grossest wickedness -- waiting for the time when he would be presented to Israel as God's ordained prophet. The same tent that protected the holy ark sheltered him. There, in innocence, he slept. The foundation of God stood sure.

Reading 2 - Isa 48:22

" 'There is no peace,' says the LORD, 'for the wicked' " (Isa 48:22).

Compare Isa 57:20,21. These two similar references to the wicked divide the last portion of Isaiah (40-66) into three equal divisions of 9 chapters each (40-48; 49-57; 58-66).

Contrast with Isa 66:24: "the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me". Thus the three-fold division of this section of Isaiah: ending with wicked... wicked again... and finally, NO wicked! -- for they have all perished.

Thus, there is no peace for the wicked (Isa 48:22), and still no peace for the wicked (Isa 57:20,21)... until, finally, they all perish. Then, at last, they find "peace": the peace of death!

Reading 3 - Rev 5:6

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" (Rev 5:6).

First John saw the "Lion" of Judah (v 5; Gen 49:9,10); this reference to Jacob's prophecy suggests a "lion" who lay down (in death) and rose up (resurrection). Jesus is this "lion", and the mediator of the new covenant (Heb 12:24; cp 1Pe 1:19). He was first slain, but now he is standing again (Isa 53:7).

"In the Apocalypse the Lamb is brought to our notice in a very striking way. John wept that none was able to open the seals which revealed things which must come to pass. He was told not to weep: 'Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book' (v 5). Thus encouraged John looked as commanded, but it was not a Lion that met his eyes, but 'a Lamb as it had been slain.' The Lion phase is based upon the Lamb phase; the foundation of all future power and glory being laid in the death of the Lamb. The metaphor wears so thin that the Lamb becomes a title of the Lord Jesus in several places of the Apocalypse (Rev 14:4; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9,22,23)" (John Carter, "Gospel of John" 34).

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